New Student Convocation has become an annual tradition at CSUDH—and it took place in person for the first time in two years on Friday, Aug. 27. Several hundred first-year, transfer, and graduate students turned out for the afternoon to learn more about the many student resources available to them during their time at CSUDH, and get to know each other and their new academic family. The event was also a chance for President Thomas A. Parham, senior leadership, faculty, and alumni to welcome these new students into the Toro community.
After a DJ and the CSUDH Dance and Cheer teams pumped up the crowd, new students were introduced to the various Toro sports teams that will represent the university this year. Parham, university vice presidents and deans then danced and strutted their way into the event to start the formal ceremony, their academic regalia not hampering their enthusiasm even in the heat of the afternoon.
The theme of this year’s convocation was Go Far Together, which Parham elaborated on during his remarks. “We learn together, journey together, and thrive together (at CSUDH),” said Parham. “Today marks the beginning or continuation of your collegiate journey, the first step on the path to your ultimate future.”
“Going Far Together is the journey you are embarking on this fall. It will unfold in a world that will demand your best when you step out of the halls of academia and into the communities in which you will ultimately reside. We will journey together because you are now a part of the Toro family, with dreams and aspirations that need to be cultivated and nurtured.”
Parham also touched on other themes, including asking the students to make education their priority and focus while a student at CSUDH. “Take enough classes each semester so that you can expedite your arrival at your destination: graduation. After all, the world is waiting.”
Parham concluded his remarks by reminding the audience of the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and following all health protocols while on campus. He wrapped things up with a brief ceremony, bestowing “Once a Toro, Always a Toro” pins on the new members of the Toro Nation.
After the president’s remarks, Scott Barrett, vice president of university advancement, welcomed 2017 CSUDH alumna Julissa James to the stage for the event’s keynote speech. James, a feature reporter for the Los Angeles Times, reflected on her own experience as an incoming first-year student, feeling “lost and afraid of the future.”
James shared lessons she learned during her educational and career journey, which have made her success possible. “Speak what you want into existence and say it loud to anyone who will listen,” she advised. “Trust yourself and your vision for the future. People will have a million different opinions on what you should do with your life. Take it all with a grain of salt and look within.”
Other advice included getting to know your peers, and not majoring in a subject you don’t like. James stressed the importance of good time management, saying, “Your time, and the way you spend that time, is the only valuable thing you have in this world. It’s your currency. Use it wisely and try to be present even in the bad moments. I’m proud of how you all have decided to spend your time over the next four years. I hope you’ll continue to invest in yourself first.”
James ended her remarks with advice that she wished she had gotten when first arriving on campus.
“Even though there is no formula to achieving the life of your dreams, trust that it will happen anyway. Be open to it looking differently than you expected. No matter how insecure or afraid or unsure I felt, there was still success to be found—and I’d find it. I’m here to say that so will you!”